by Desmond Soh
When I bring others to God, is it for my sake or theirs?
We are called to mission and to proclaim the Good News. However, we are held back by various reasons such as the fear of judgement and rejection. In our secular workplaces, we feel that explicit discussions about faith are unwelcomed and we settle for passive forms of evangelisation or giving up altogether.
Chapter 4 of Evangelii Gaudium reiterates that evangelisation does not only include our personal relationship with God, nor simply an accumulation of kind acts to ease our conscience. It needs to have a social impact. Our redemption has a social dimension because “God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person, but also the social relations existing between men (Chp 4 178 Evangelii Gaudium)
We are called to to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). This ‘creation’ is referring to all facets of our human life e.g. personal, community, work etc. This also extends to societal and national life for “It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven” (Ch4 182 Evangelli Gaudium).
Lastly, and most importantly, an authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it (Chp4 183 Evangelii Gaudium). Within my first month at work, I quickly realised who were in the faith or not, lapsed or actively practicing. Initially, I was eager to talk about faith and find out why my colleagues have left the church.
Later, I found it challenging to have conversations about faith in front of all my colleagues and there were no opportunities to do so 1-to-1. My zeal dwindled over time. I looked back at the times when I invited friends to Mass or community, and questioned my intentions towards evangelising – was I truly sincere? Doubts started to creep in and as I felt my approach to evangelisation seemed “ineffective”.
Reading the Evangelii Gaudium made me ponder and my approach towards evangelisation. This helped me to realise that I have much to work on, and I cannot do it by my own efforts. The genuine desire to evangelise stems from an ‘authentic faith’ that empowers us to reach out despite the discomfort, for the betterment of others and society, and ultimately for God. Let us be docile to the Holy Spirit, and redirect the people around us towards the ‘hope born of the loving heart of Jesus Christ’ (Chp4 183 EG).
Are you willing to invite God’s love into our lives, to cooperate with the Spirit in this liberating work of evangelisation?